TED Conversations

Bernard White


This conversation is closed.

Can we ever design an experiment which can determine whether God exists?

I just find it hard to believe when people say : "There is no evidence for God". Yes there isn't because we can't design an experiment to prove or disprove this hypothesis.
However a very important thing, Which I devoted a whole TED Debate to (Here is the link to that debate : http://www.ted.com/conversations/17001/can_god_be_defined_or_in_othe.html), is that to work out whether the hypothesis is true we must first define what we mean by "God" (and "existence" for that matter), which I have found doesn't prove to be very successful. Otherwise we can't advance into going to making experiment for this hypothesis.
In science (I believe) theories can only be disproved and never proved to be "certain", so in this sense everybody has to be an agnostic about God, unless some genius in the TED community can come up with an experiment.
While another problem remains that we base all data we have on experimental data we have gained from the past, and expect the future to be consistent.

So in this sense I am a strong agnostic / Ignostic because God hasn't really been defined (and only has subjective definitions) and that I can't genially think of an experiment to determine whether God exist of not. So yes in the literal sense there is no "evidence" but that's only because no experiment have been done.
(Also there remains the slight problem with the fact that there is a degree of uncertainness in everything, and that no matter how logical and rational a hypothesis may seem it can always be proved false, or untrue)

My final point would be I see no correlation with an absence of evidence, and an evidence of absence! (This is very important)

And of-course, I apologize for repeating myself (if I have done so!) and my awful spelling and grammar.
Just so I say now, so I get no confusion, this is just an honest enquiry as to whether it can be done! (Not trying to reduce "God" in any way!)


Closing Statement from Bernard White

I'm slightly worreid I won't do a good job of this summary but here I go :

I must first say this :
I implore everybody to look at my "new" God debate :
What does the theological implications do the "Psychology" and "Neuroscience" (and possibly biology) of religion/ "God(s)" have?
Link : http://www.ted.com/conversations/18226/what_does_the_theological_impl.html

This has been a wonderful debate with lots of interesting idea's. However I view, with the majority consensus, (and please correct me if I have got this wrong) that there isn't a experiment which can (dis)prove the existence of "God(s)".
I would just like to congratulate everybody for their amazing contributions to the conversation. It has given me a lot to ponder.
Kind regards (to all),

  • Apr 17 2013: Here is a definition of God : ' God is the relationship between all the finite points of creation'. An experiment to test for God would be to see if and particular part of the universe is related to any other part, If a relationship is proven. then God exsists. To check this, if any finite parts of the universe or creation can be shown not to have any kind of relationship, then the omni-present, omni-potent God cannot exsist.
    • Apr 18 2013: I like the idea, it's good, it's more than good, actually ! :)
      There is a problem, though ... what are the "all finite points of creation" ?
      The Whole is never complete.
      Let's make it an abstract, thought experiment.
      Take Chaos Theory , Holographic principle , Mandelbrot set , Bohm's interpretation of QM ( with non locality in it , it's important ) add all these quantum ' weird ' stuff, like entanglement , superposition and all the rest of it. And what we'll get as a result may look like :
      " Nothing has independent existence from anything else "
      or mystic metaphor ' the seer is the seen "
      Let's make a leap ..."The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me."
      Iow. it should take place in me.
      I believe it's that simple :)

      Thanks !
  • Apr 17 2013: k... I didn't read any other comments so sorry if this has already been said.

    No we can't ever propose an experiment which disproves the existence of God.
    And this is because of a very simple reason.... "brain in a vat".

    You can ALWAYS say that "all of our observations/experiences are illusions" which are placed there by some external thing (God or a machine or perhaps a physical illusion... you can go on with even stranger ideas if you want).

    In your own post you point out that in science you can't really prove something is true... you can only prove something is false given some premises.
    The brain in a vat argument tells you that all premises could be illusions.... So you can use this argument to destroy all knowledge we have.

    There is not a single argument you can bring against that... except that the idea is far fetched.

    We can however make it more/less likely for religion to be a human fabrication by discovering things about the human nature and other types of research.
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      Apr 17 2013: I love this comment!
      I have been trying to tell people something on this idea, for ages.
      Yet you have just put it beautifully into words!
      While I do feel that if we are "brain in vats" or if I am an illusion, then I still exist, just in a different form. (I'm a line of coding! Yay!)
      However it does depend how you define "existence" doesn't it? :P
      • Apr 17 2013: "While I do feel that if we are "brain in vats" or if I am an illusion, then I still exist, just in a different form. (I'm a line of coding! Yay!)"

        When I freely translate that into historical context it would be "I think therefor I am" (cogito ergo sum) - Descartes. He argued that even if you cannot be sure of anything the fact that you can think about being unsure means that 'you' must be somewhere.

        Ofcourse, like you also mentioned, it does depend on how you define existence (or 'being' in Descartes reasoning).
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      Apr 17 2013: This does not stop inductive and bayesian logic to be valid.

      It is reasoning with clearly stating your assumptions.

      Furthermore, occam's razor implies that redundant assumptions need not to be taken into account.
      So explanation A is better than explanation B if B=A+god (it's adding 0 information value)

      When adding fantasy, call it fantasy and not valid.

      Furthermore, a brain in a vat will assume that one connot generate knowledge ex nihilo (an algorithm cannot increase in complexity unless there is outside information added). This implies that you'll need to assume that "everything" is the "brain in that vat".
      I call this everything "reality", but if you want to call it "illusion", then we are discussing semantics.

      So something is true within "the brain in the vat". You cannot make truth claims about something that is outside it (if you could, it would be part of it).

      So you are back at square one: partial information to inform you about somthing bigger (probably finite). In that finite space, the probabilty of a god is getting lower the more we discover (Boltzmann style)

      So I agree with White
      • Apr 17 2013: You write that as if you disagree with me... But I don't really see where.

        In science we have assumptions about the world (which allow for the inductive reasoning to take place).
        You could say that given the premise that "what we can observe is reality" we can conclude that ..insert scientific findings.......

        But for religion you can't because "In the beginning there was nothing.... then God created blabla" this in itself lifts God above what we can observe. And therefor we cannot assume the same premisses that we do in science.

        Science is perfectly fine if you always include the premise of "in this universe we can observe ....." (which science actually does but it's not clear to many people that this is one of the premisses).
        Or as you put it that "You cannot make truth claims about something that is outside it" (where it = the vat)

        I just tried to word it in such a way that breaks the normal train of thought.

        And yes we get back at square one.... which is why we cannot prove that God doesn't exist.

        Perhaps the line you disagree with is "So you can use this argument to destroy all knowledge we have." If you disagree with that line then I think you're saying that while we're in the vat the knowledge will hold.... But that is a somewhat strange idea because assume that the vat is a computer program and God is a programmer... and he decides to hit the "invert gravity" button....

        I would agree with you if you would say that science is our best attempt at trying to describe everything we can observe. However that doesn't invalidate (or validate) the reasoning behind a "brain in a vat". There is just no way we can prove something when it is outside of our perception.

        We could however show that the existence of God is unlikely.
  • Apr 15 2013: I've been thinking for many years that we are the experiment. KCorletta
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    Apr 14 2013: I think the main problem here is that we do not know the right question to ask.
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      Apr 14 2013: I agree!
      I find it difficult trying to ask the "right question!", yet there is no harm in trying! :P
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      Apr 14 2013: G'day Danger Lampost

      Yes I would agree on that, science today is finding new ways in asking these questions through newer science techniques like quantum physics, mechanics & vacuum & these techniques are also evolving to obtain better answers through newer ways of asking question so yes obsoletely right in my mind DL.

    • Apr 18 2013: Who am I ?

      would be the right one , i guess :)
    • Apr 20 2013: If we know the right question to ask, we probably already know the right answer)).
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    Apr 27 2013: The Higgs boson is not all that important (900 billion Dollars!!! to finance the research), what is important is the Higgs field from which the Higgs particle is produced. Without the Higgs field electrons will be massless moving at the speed of light ( if so atoms could not be formed), with the Higgs field electrons will keep bumping into the field thus gaining inertia & mass slowing the electrons enough to form atoms and you and me and all else.No Higgs Field , No Atoms -no Stars-no Planets- no Chemistry- no Life.. And this is the foundation of the Standard model of physics , the Higgs field -adding mass to the building blocks of everything. (Amazing!!)

    The Higgs field neither proves or disproves God, but it does fills a gap in our quest to understand nature.

    At the core of the God question is the lack of any coherent definition of what God is. All we have is concepts,so we are putting the cart before the horse as we attempt to have an operational definition to sink our teeth into.How can you test a God conceptualized as supernatural in a natural context? And if you were able to ,wouldn't that render the meaning of of the words natural and supernatural meaningless? , since both are mutually exclusive. I think that we cannot postulate the existence,much less the nature of God because we do not know what it means for a supernatural being to exist.Our entire worldview of existence is informed by a natural context. Saying God is a supernatural being is clear but is not meaningful. Saying that the existence of said God can be established using the natural world is neither meaningful nor coherent.
    God is trans-rational, an article of personal faith, Science has nothing to say about it, at least for now. But Science can say much about the Higgs field.

    Søren Kierkegaard
    “Certainty... lurks at the door of faith and threatens to devour it.”

    Martin Luther
    “Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding.”

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      Apr 27 2013: Great, succinct explanation.

      I just wish the media or whoever hadn't labeled the Higgs bosun the god particle. Leads to so many misunderstandings.

      Supernatural is a strange concept. Its like giving up and saying its magic imo. Free yourself from evidence, understanding, from models, data, mechanisms, proof. Free yourself from any limits, call it all powerful and knowing and you have a ready made answer to anything and everything limited only by your imagination.

      an all powerful, all knowing, something that is not part of the universe, can be used to plug any gaps, but yet it explains nothing, you just push the questions back a level and have added unnecessary and unsubstantiated speculation and complexity.

      Why does the universe exist....god
      Why does god exist......to explain the universe

  • Apr 26 2013: While science tries to explain the invisible through the visible, there is no room for God/Spirit /Consciousness in the dictionary of science, it has no proof either.
    But now with modern physics once we grasp the full implication of the quantum message we can never again naively believe that the world 'out there' is more real than the world ' in here' .
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      Apr 27 2013: Hi Natasha, while I am open to the possibility of things deserving the name gods or goddesses, i disagree that the cosmic and quantum understanding we have developed points to there being gods or goddesses.

      For me it shows how counter intuitive, complex and amazing life and the universe is.

      I remember a high school class where one student slapped the desk saying he couldn't accept it was 99.9999999999% empty space.

      There could be ghosts, nature spirits, faerie, gods, or beings not imagined. Just nothing that confirms they exist.

      I can partially see the attraction or intuitive connection between some aspects of our scientific understanding, and god concepts, cosmic consciousness, and mysterious connections, but suggest often a fair bit of extrapolation is involved beyond what we have reasonably confirmed is probably correct.

      Understanding there are invisible forces like gravity doesn't mean there are invisible agencies, such that have been assumed for everything from disease to floods and lightening.
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        Apr 28 2013: Its the mind that makes "gods" real just like the table that is sitting in front of you. Does your knowing that it is 99.999999999% empty make it less real to you or more real or does it hold its original value? The question you should really ask your self is what am I actually seeing? And then there was light
      • Apr 29 2013: Hi, Obey !
        That student is who we are, we can't accept the fact that the desk is 99.9999999999% empty space. Why ? Because we all have a strong collective belief in totally the opposite : the desk is solid.
        Our belief makes it solid, our collective mind expectation creates matter/ the world as we know it.
        For how long will we entertain the idea of external God ?
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          Apr 29 2013: Hi again,

          My take is we evolved to eat and avoid and mate with medium sized, medium speed things.

          So our senses have evolved to perceive lions and fruit and other humans.

          Not individual atoms, not distant planetoids.

          Suggest it is a mix of sense perception, belief, and focus.

          We know about atoms, bacteria, the minature world. SSometimes we focus on it, say when working with a microscope. But driving home we focus on the medium sized objects, especially the buses.

          I expect external god concepts will be around for a while, I don't personally believe in one. I guess there are many other god concepts, god in us, everywhere, in quantum fields. Maybe the external god willed itself into oblivion a billion years ago.
      • Apr 29 2013: I think the main problem is that vexed ' objective VS subjective' business.
        Objectivity is the illusion of a subject, hardly anything more. Multiply it to the number of agents /subjects currently ' working' in the field , add the time aspect:15 billion years ( ? ) I don't know. And what we'll get is a self fulfilling prophecy, mass hallucination... collective dream, what have you. We call it ' objective reality ' , fine !
        We swallow the fact of 99.9999999999% empty space, the quanta fluctuation from the state of existence to non existence 3 bl.times per second ( on average it doesnt' exist and resides in indeterminate zone) ... the result of a double slit experiment ( consciousness , the 'eye' of the observer is required to collapse the wave function and push a particle into existence )....we swallow all these and many other facts without altering our attitude !
        Amazing !
        We still think that quantum world is standing apart from our ' human' physical world, but if you accept this division , you have a logical philosophical, experiential mess in your hands ! The nature is fractal all over the genre, ' as above so below ' .
        To question the doctrine of objectivity is a right place to start in the search for a higher dimension, call it God or whatever the name . I think it prefers to be unnamed, but to communicate the idea we need a symbol and we have it.

        Have a nice day !
  • Apr 23 2013: If I understand you correctly, you would like to use the" Scienfic Method" to deal with this popular question. The problem is going to be , that as you suggest, "God" doesn't have an agreed on meaning that is specific enough to be able to design any experiemts.
    That doesn't reallly matter, though., bacause in Science it is a valid procedure to produce a "Theory", which can answer, or bypass, questions. It is a matter of dealing satisfactorily and consistently , at least potentially, with any deal killing questions., even in the absence of any decisive experiement at the moment.
    You no doubt aware of all the contradictory, inconsistent beliefs of most religions. The popular ones, Judeo-Christian-Moslem-Agnostics all share a pretty much similar view of how the Universe is laid out, what Human nature is like, etc. Basically, the Hindus and Buddhists have a radically different concept, but it is overlaid with centuries of ritualistic practices which obscure its science friendly premises. Alan Watts, an ex Anglican priest, did an excellent job of getting down to basics.about this. Science has evolved to a belief that the basic elements of our world, are energy, cycles, Fields of Force, and conservation Laws. Even Newtonians were aware that "things" were illusions based on "atoms", now we find out that even atoms are constructs of other non-stuff. Electromagnetism, and the other Forces are in the form of "Fields". My guess is that "Consciousness " will turn out to be yet another" Field". It would probably not shock a Buddhist or Hindu, since it woud fit in with their beliefs, but it would be a total killer for the other religions, which require an all powerful puppeteer, in the mode of Ancient Kings, entirely separate from the Peons (us) The Field, if identified with "God" would imply that Groups have a reality beyond collections of illusory "Individuals", and furthermore, that WE are indistinguishable from God in that sense. Super heresy.
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      Apr 24 2013: Hello Shawn Disney, Nice too meet you! :D
      I'm surprised you put "Agnostics" in that same category. I would probably label myself an "Strong (/ strict) agnostic".
      However, I do not know much about Hinduism. What do they teach? :)
      • Apr 24 2013: Hi Bernard White:
        Always a pleasure to talk to someone who is interested in getting beyond "what everyone knows". The reason I would lump the Agnostics in with the others is that they seem to share so many basic , unquestioned assumptions about our Universe, and seem to agree that there is not much alternative. The assumptions being, for one, there is either "God" , or "Not-God". In a Universe, more or less Newtonian in structure, which was either arranged by a conscious , rational, even personal, sort of being, much like an
        Ancient King. Or , alternatively,, the "God" is not there, but there is a mechanistic, scientific sort of structure that we all inhabit, as "individuals", born without knowing where we are , or what is going on anyway, and we gradually learn by Evolution, family life, etc. who we are, and how we should behave. As to "purposes" , life spans, etc. that is still a mystery, but there are a lot of contradictory sayings and customs which purport to answer insoluble conundrums, such as "God's Love", or the "Afterlife", etc. None of it very satisfactory.
        Buddhism is derived from Hinduism, and they are both quite contrary to the modern World View, at first sight. Buddhism , being younger, has less accumulated , Culture -specific rituals, etc. Both are quite scientific and modern in spirit, since they focus on "experience" , unlike the other "Religions". It is probably accurate to say that neither of these is really a "Religion", since they are not concerned with "Salvation", Sin, Evil, Afterllife. Souls, etc.which the others assume as "Real". There seems no conflict with the basic setup to say that it is consistent with Buddhism to believe that "Consciousness Potential", in the form of a universal Force Field, analogous to Electricity, is the Source of "Individuals". and Groups as well, but they are Constructs, and not basic elements. Just as "atoms" are. I'm running out of space. See Alan Watts , "the Book" for a better explanation
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          Apr 24 2013: Hello! (Again). :)
          I wouldn't say that there is or isn't a God at all!
          If anything I came up with this 8 answer model :

          1. I know there is...
          2. I believe it is most probable there is...
          3. I do not know at this present moment, not to say that I will not know one day...
          4. I will never know....
          5. I do not know, for I have not thought about it...
          6. I believe it is most improbable there is...
          7. I know there isn't...


          8. I am just not concerned / Don't care.

          Most people are in the "8" and "5" category from my experience.

          Yet I suppose you could argue I am going towards a more "yes or no" answer scale. What would you suggest is wrong with that? I mean there is the "possibility" that a personal God(s) could spawn into existence at any moment, or die at any moment.

          While if this is true, I have no way of knowing in my present state. (Through scientific method, that is!)

          I like this quote :
          "Life is a mystery to be lived, not a question to be solved".
          However I find it more fulfilling to try and find the answers I can with my finite brain, which can only process (and store) so much information.
          I am an agnostic with regards as to whether my life is finite (I just die) or infinite (There is a form of after-life, or reincarnation).
          I accept that there may not be a "one universal answer / meaning to life", I accept there could be "many meaning(s) to life!".

          I have no grudge towards any religion, if anything admire them in a odd form. For (most) religions encourage a sense of community, altruistic (+ empathy towards your fellow man) deeds, and a sense awe towards the universe.

          I hope you enjoyed my reply.
          Kind regards (again! :P),

          EDIT : However! I must admit, I do find the concept of a personal "God(s)" can be explained quite nicely as a "Cognitive illusion", read my other comments about this matter. I find the concept of God, can be reduced to the "Theory of mind", and "“artificialism” (or "promiscuous teleology".)
  • Apr 18 2013: Hey Bernard!
    Are aware that the 'minder's at ted have censored a contribution of mine regarding an announcement I made today? It was an announcement of a conferance which dealt with consciousness researchers that will take place instead of the cancelled tedx. Infact, It appears a couple of my contributions have been removed! As you are aware of my congenial and polite nature of participating - you can know that this is indeed an act of consorship. Obviously, as we have discussed, consciousness research is a possible tool in an experimental approach to designing an experiment for a proof of a god. But ted sent me a terse note saying that I was off subject and then I find my thoughtful contributions expunged from this conversation today. Any clues buddy?

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      Apr 18 2013: Hmm.
      It seems TED might be doing an injustice to you my friend! (We must sort it out!)
      Can I help in anyway?
      Yes I would love to watch that TED X talk! (It would be very interesting!)
      Have you watched the TED talk :
      Dan Dennett: The illusion of consciousness
      Link : http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_our_consciousness.html
      Would be interested in your thought on it, as a "explorer of consciousness"!
      Yet I am quite busy now unfortunately so I won't be able to respond as frequently as I once did!
      Kind regards,
      Your friend Bernard.
      • Apr 18 2013: HI Bernard!
        I will check this link out. But, I think you would be interested in a discussion (which ended unexpectedly), between Dan Dennett, Ed May and Russell Targ. It is in the foreword to 'The Reality of ESP" by Russell Targ.
        Thanks Buddy for your Kind Friendship,
      • Apr 18 2013: Hi Again Buddy,
        I just realized since the book I referenced is a u.s. publicaion, you may not have access to it :|. So, I will quote a bit of it to give you a sense of the intellectual disconnect involved. "Along with Ed May, I once debated with Daniel Dennett, a prominent critic of ESP research, at an event produced by ABC News for station news staffs and station mamagers. We debated along for about thirty minutes, with Dennett making dismissive and disparaging remarks to anything Ed or I said, but always in generalities. Finally I said to him: "Let's pick an experiment we both know, and you tell me what is wrong with it, and I will respond". Without a moment's hesitation he shot back in the most deliberately condescending act I have ever witnessed, saying, "You don't think I actually read this stuff, do you?" There was a moment's silence, then laughter began, first as giggles, then as chuckles, and, finally, as guffaws. It suddenly dawned on Dennett what he had said. He blushed and sat down, and left as soon as he could."
        So, the 'old school is often defensive about turf, prestige and status (quo). This is to be expected. As the saying goes; 'science progresses one death at a time'.
        There are head winds to be endured for progress to happen - listening ted?
        Talk to you soon Buddy,
      • Apr 18 2013: Hi Bernard, Buddy!
        I really appreciate your kind support.
        I think this maybe a useful occurrance for me. But, I must preface my hypothosis with a little background info on me.
        I recieved my BS in education and art. I also did additional studies (beyond the requirements), in psychology and at one point considered changing my double major to philosophy. I spent a number of years also working professionally as a addiction and rehab. counselor and also worked with 'sex offenders', who were also chemical and behavioral addicted.
        This experience was extremely helpful to me in understanding observations of my own internal introspection of thinking dynamics that I must look at - on a continual basis.
        So, here is my hypothisis:
        I saw this same dynamic in the (now closed), discussion re; dr. sheldrake's treatment. I believe much of the intellectual and emotional dis-connects we see played out is an attempt to avoid the accompanying discomforts of our old friend 'cognitive disonance'. I'm thinking that many folks can sense intuitively or unconsciously, an occurance of this event and the associated discomforts. So, as I cited the previous quote by Russell Targ, I have to wonder if many people unconsciously or actively avoid other views or paradigms to avoid the Buddhist "suffering" of emotional discomfort. You and I know that our only hope to understanding is to accept and even embrace this suffering as a reality and side effect (and benefit?), of the suffering of cognitive disonance. to grow as people. This is why personal research is real 'work'. Am I making sense here? What do you think?
        Thanks for your continued friendship!
      • Apr 18 2013: Hi! bernard!
        I'm sorry. I'm beginning to feel like a pest.
        But this IS important!
        A serious "Thumbs Up" must go to our freind Natasha for her kind and encouraging words!
        AND her prompt to post my hypothosis of unconscious avoidance of the discomfort/ Buddhist conception of "suffering" - by thoughtfully reminding me of the "Four Noble Truths" of Buddhism!!
        A BIG thanks to Natasha!
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          Apr 18 2013: Very well.
          I shall do your will, as you so selflessly ask! :P
          You are not a pest, don't worry.
          Kind regards,
      • Apr 18 2013: Oh Bernard!
        I'm afraid I will have to drop another bomb - 'duck and cover'! :>
        Check out the huffington post, deeppak chopra article under the science section dated 4.18.13.
    • Apr 18 2013: They try to make it look like a business-as-usual. But obviously, it is not.
    • Apr 18 2013: Let's not miss the opportunity to master Aesop's language :)

      "There's something fishy going on down at the sardine factory!

      -I think it's fish! "
      It's a big fish, my friend ! very big !
      Try to imagine what impact ' mass awakening ' may have on the assembly line production/mentality/modus vivendi ... ?
      The whole civilization will be in ruin !
      Btw. , i am totally immune to conspiracy theories, it's just the way it is, always.
      " Nothing ever changes but the Same "

      Cheers !
      • Apr 18 2013: Hi Natasha!
        Thanks again for your reply! You're very kind. I goofed - again, by making my last reply to you part of the main thread. This seems to be an obsessive-compulsive disorder on my part :) I see a dialog box and I JUST WANT TO TYPE!!!!!! :> PLease, 'stop me before I type again!' :)
      • Apr 18 2013: Thanks Natasha!
        For your cheerful willingness to over look my bumbling. I know from experience that some folks do feel sensnitive about being/ having a response put out front - for a number of reasons. I just wanted to be sensitive and courteous - not knowing how all folks may feel about this.
        Thanks Again,
  • Apr 17 2013: I think it already has been done. See The Scratch, below.
    there is no such thing as "existing"
    there is only "just is"
    thus, god doesn't exist, god just is.
    It's everything and it just is.
    We don't really know why.
    We don't really know who why.
    We don't really know what why.
    We don't really know when why.
    We don't really know where why.
    We don't really know how why.
    We don't really know why why
    We only think we know and that is it.
    Think and we are. think and it is.
    The Scratch.
    Scratch yourself. Do nothing. Trust it to heal and it will.
    Open up the cells that do the healing.
    Keep looking deeper and deeper into those cells, halving them until they are so small,
    nothing can see them, nor is there anything left there to see.
    During this seeking, at no time will anyone be able to point to anything in any cell and say,
    "there, that's intelligence. That's how IT knows how to heal. There, that is power. That is how IT is able to heal.
    There, that is love. That is why IT heals."
    But with nothing left, nothing there, we can point to that nothingness and we can all say, "IT works, IT really does."
    IT just is.
    Everyone who has ever lived, is living and perhaps those who will live,
    have had, are having or will have, the empirical evidence of The Scratch.
    There is nothing wrong with us humans,
    that a good wound won't heal.
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      Apr 17 2013: And what is 'just is', if there is no such thing as 'existing'?
      I liked it though! :) ('we don't really know...')
      Kind regards,
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    Apr 17 2013: I think we just view God differently then what God may really be. The collective consciousness of all of us together may very well be God. Just like how the individual Cybernetic Animals of Voltron create the bigger being of asskickery.

    If we keep looking for God as this single entity, we'd never find God, but maybe we just haven't got us all in the same room and asked if God was present yet...

    not to mention, I highly doubt that God would even want us to waste our time finding God, since God made us God Would want us to go outwards and live, not try and find God and ask God what's up?

    It's all a matter of perception, I'm not religious I am spiritual.
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      Apr 21 2013: Or anything deserving to be called God may not exist.
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    Apr 17 2013: I cleaned my oven yesterday and when I opened it up this morning there was a cupcake in it. I cannot find an explanation for it! I came back today and the oven was gone. This is the mystery.
    • Apr 18 2013: There is nothing but mystery. :)
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      Apr 21 2013: I found a universe this morning. There must be a transcendent (whatever that means) oven that bakes universes.
      It wont be visible. In fact it will be outside of time and space, i.e. non detectible, deliberately deceptive or aloof,, practically non existent, unexplained.
  • Apr 16 2013: It seems to me the existance of God is a matter of faith rather than a matter of proof. Therefore no experiment or test will ever be able to prove the exsistance of God. If you have faith you will see God everywhere, if not well . . . .
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      Apr 16 2013: I agree. If your definition of "God" is "a personal God"! :P
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    Apr 16 2013: First of all I would like to say that I will try to address this question on the assumption that the God we are referring to is the one that has created everything, the Universe in its entirety.
    I believe that God was created by man. Since man is capable of asking questions, he is capable of designing answers.
    The God question is Paradox. Such paradox doesn't need to exist. It only does exist because of want and need. Do we need God? A lot do. Do we want God? I dare to answer this as 'yes' the human race wants one. This would ensure the everlasting life that religion promises. Now, how enticing is it when somebody tells you that there is a soul and promises you ever lasting life?? Pretty exciting!! They now have your attention and what precedes is a brainwashing process that has the potential of lasting a life time. This happens because religious zealots demand that you do not question, because questioning would put you in the lap of temptation, and not only would you not have a great afterlife but, you would spend it in eternal inferno. WOW This I call, CONTROL, brain washing. Man has a need and man provides the solution. Now to answer the question. The experiment would have to be on the Human brain, however this is no experiment at all. It is a study well in progress. Little by little we will realize what we truly are. Carl Sagan said it best. We are Star dust. Can this truth not be enough??? I find this amazing, wonderful, poetic, beautiful, truly everlasting. ...It is all God!! Therefore the proof is .... LOOK AROUND.
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      Apr 16 2013: So basically your saying your a pantheistic.
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        Apr 17 2013: No Bernard, not a pantheist. That would imply that I see the Universe as some sort of divine place. The Universe is a very dangerous place, it constantly tries to kill us. I was merely trying to imply that for those that need a God, they need only to look around, that it can be looked at as God. Theology tells you that we come from God. I am implying that we are of the Universe and if you want to call that God, then, we are part of God, and there is NOTHING ELSE.
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        Apr 17 2013: Committing to that kind of certainty is a dangerous move. :) :)
  • Apr 13 2013: Any experiment to prove God's existence may look like an attempt within seconds to find a black sleeping cat in a dark room, having a strong suspicion that it is actually not there. And it is the best case scenario :)
    There is no wrong place to find God, when it is within. There is no need to define and believe in God. God is a symbol, a word, it doesn't imply that it is not real.
    Forget about experiment, try ' experience ' :)
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      Apr 13 2013: Hello natasha nikulina!
      Yes I have experienced this emotion you call "God", yet do not find it satisfactory! And it is only inductive reasoning, which is built upon, well, my emotions. :) (Which don't prove to be very reliable...)
      Yet I can accept that if a God does exist it is within! :P (And not an external being independent of the human mind!)
      Actaully just read my reply (somewhere) about the psychology of religion and watch :
      Don't know how this will change your perception!
      Kind regards,
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        Apr 14 2013: uh, sorry if I missed something but... you equate god to an emotion? is this true? no wonder you are quite confused.
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        Apr 14 2013: i am not suggesting anything. god is much more than that and you could never label god. you could only talk about god thru metaphor, symbolism and storytelling... exactly why people who cannot let go of their ego being in control cannot find out what god is. there are at least seven major aspects of god that I can think of.
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          Apr 14 2013: If you could tell me what those "seven major aspects" are, and how you "know" them to be true! :P
          I mean if God is undefinable , or un-label-able, then I must admit asking the question :
          "Does God exist" if God is undefinable! (Because is it like saying : "Does X exist?".
          You can see my problem!
      • Apr 18 2013: Hello, Bernard White ! :)
        Thanks for the link ! I am not to judge about the quality of the experiment , but i would agree with the conclusion, yes , we may say : God is in your mind, but...
        but your mind is not in your head, your brain is. Brain and mind are not separate ( nothing is ) but they are not identical either. When disturbed, brain may have access to Mind ( or field of information ) usually, in normal state it doesn't deal with. You may call it ' cognitive illusion ', altered state of consciousness, insight...non algorithmic knowing, mystic experience ...what have you, but whatever it is , it is not less real than the helmet itself, actually it's where the helmet came from, alongside with everything else.
        Don't take me wrong, i have noting to convert you into, but try to trust your experience, it's the primary data, it's the truest truth you can possibly get.
        Your emotions are important :)

        Thanks for responding !
    • Apr 15 2013: Well said, Natashia!
      • Apr 18 2013: Thanks, Jordan !
        I didn't say anything, actually :) I don't know how to prove what seems to me the obvious.
        McLuhan once said : Whoever discovered water, certainly was not a fish.
        We are swimming in the ocean of consciousness and we don't know what consciousness is.
        There is nothing which is not God and we don't know what God is.
        Funny, isn't it ? :)
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    Apr 9 2013: If God does exist, then it is within human consciousness.

    Which is why science could never reach it - let alone define it.
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      Apr 9 2013: Agree. :P
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      Apr 10 2013: What do you mean god would be in human consciousness?

      Also, how did you come to this conclusion?

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        Apr 10 2013: It used to be thought that spiritual feelings were confined to one particular "God spot" in the brain, but has since been refuted by new research, which in a nutshell is saying that a decreased focus on the self coincides with increased feelings of spirituality. This is as a result of studying impairment or malfunction to the right parietal lobe (the centre of 'self'), and Buddhist meditative practices that effectively decrease activity in this region:


        It's more likely therefore, that spiritual feelings are spread across multiple areas of the brain - different areas for different people. Which leads me to think that there is no single experiment that could ever be devised to determine the existence of God as a collective norm in humans.
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          Apr 10 2013: That is interesting Allan. I have read research in the past that indicated an INCREASE in right brain functioning indicates the "God spot", or higher level of spirituality. The information you provide suggests the god spot/spirituality with "decreased right parietal lobe functioning".

          Whatever they come up with for research, I believe that all feelings are spread across multiple areas of the brain.....as you say....different areas for different people. Perhaps different experiences, beliefs and background information also influence....which, of course would embrace the idea of "different areas for different people".:>)
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      Apr 8 2013: Re: "You are making a mockery of the idea of God! Call it character assassination!"

      I totally agree. Dragging God into the realm of physically detectable things, subject to scrutiny and analysis does seem like a lack of understanding of both faith and science. God is not a giant squid.

      I totally support the TEDx red flag for pseudoscience: "The fusion of science and spirituality. Be especially careful of anyone trying to prove the validity of their religious beliefs and practices by using science".


      I think, attempts to present religious claims as scientific can lead to much evil as well as treating scientific beliefs with religious devotion.
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        Apr 8 2013: Again I am confused by this statement.
        Have I tried to prove any "religious belief" by the use of science? No, in my opinion.
        You view that God cannot be accessed by science and this was the question.

        Also you are assuming God isn't some massive squid (this is where my Ignostic self kicks in) which controls the universe on a minor note. And if I believed that God was a really powerful squid then you would be doing mockery to my God, saying that God was not a giant squid. (And is a self-aware ultimate squid, the most powerful thing we can imagine, that is all knowing, all powerful and all loving ect.)

        (In relation to your whole subjective thing, I may find what you find "mockery" not "mockery". So is "mockery" just subjective, and I can just say : It is just your opinion. Which is one of the problems I find with subjective(ness), not saying it is true or not)
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          Apr 8 2013: Re: "Have I tried to prove any "religious belief" by the use of science? No, in my opinion."

          You haven't. And I haven't said that you did. However, if we assume that God is detectable by scientific method, we open the doors for religious science and scientific religion. And that's where things can get sticky.

          Re: "So is "mockery" just subjective, and I can just say : It is just your opinion."

          Yes, you can. I will totally agree with you. Defining something as "mockery" is completely subjective. I don't see any problems here :-).
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        Apr 8 2013: Agree, to be honest! :D (I love it when we reach consensus! It feels so rewarding!)
        I find that with these subjective things, then there are subjective objective truths. (In the way you could calculate what makes certain people feel offended independent of what they believe) If that makes any sense. :P
        Also once you have defined offensive you can easily (objectively) calculate what certain people would fine offensive, if you have enough information about them.
        Hope I have explained this well enough!
        Yet yeah I do agree with you the whole "offence" is mostly subjective.
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      Apr 8 2013: If the answer is "No", then the answer is "No!". (In your opinion of course, which I would be inclined to agree with) :)
      This is all I wanted, I just wanted to see whether some people believed there was observational or experimental evidence which could prove (or disprove) God in the physical realm we live in.
      I do not see how this is making mockery of the idea of God at all, this is partly why I am a strong agnostic about God. I see no way, using scientific method (as I understand it, if I have got something wrong, please just tell me! :p) to prove or disprove God.
      I am interested though, did you think I was expecting people to prove to me that their faith is valid, or prove to me that their God is applicable to science.
      I was not expecting this
      While I do not know why, and mean no ill, it is just your comment (intuitively) reminded me of a debate I once enjoyed : "Does the freedom of expression (some would call this pluralism) include the freedom to offend?". (Not going to say anything about my opinion on this debate.)
      However, I can see your answer to this question is "No" to the debate.
      I do not understand your point about Baloney though, I can be sure (if I accept the external world exists) that Baloney does exist, because I can test on it. And see it, and hold it. (Basically what I am trying to say, why have you put "Baloney" and "God" in the same category. If anything this is a slight mockery to God. Baloney is an inanimate (physical) object which is to be consumed, while God is sometimes defined as the most powerful incomprehensible immaterial being we can possible conceive. They are very different things!)
      Just to say : I mean no offence in this reply, I just find your demonstrations, well, rather confusing to be honest.

      EDIT : With regard to the C.S Lewis talk, would "string theory" or solipsism fit into either of the categories of : This universe is all there is, or there is an intelligent "designer" behind it? (Or am I misunderstanding something here?)
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      Apr 9 2013: It seemed too me the question was asked in the interest of honest enquiry, not mocking.

      But that is just my opinion.

      Although it is just reinforcing most ideas about god are subjective and not testable.

      Actually we can measure many things we can not see, using technology. Temperature, infra red, microscopic things. It is just gods seem most often to be conceptualised as something outside of the reality we can observe. Which is rather convenient, but leads to all the different contradictory beliefs because there is no compelling evidence that gods exist let alone their nature and what they want from humans, if anything. The cathedrals and mosques don't make the associated religious claims any less subjective and suspect.

      Also I suggest some of the god related claims can be tested when they relate to reality. If someone says the gods live in a physical villa on mount Olympus, or the universe is 6000 years old, we can test these claims.
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        Apr 9 2013: "It seemed too me the question was asked in the interest of honest enquiry, not mocking."
        That's all it was, couldn't have put it better myself.
        "the universe is 6000 years old, we can test these claims."
        Agree. :D
        "If someone says the gods live in a physical villa on mount Olympus"..."we can test these claims."
        Not so sure about this one though! I mean, they may be invisible and undetectable creature who live in the physical world.
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          Apr 10 2013: I meant physical Greek gods and their villas.

          Also if we can not agree on a definition of god or the gods or goddeses, if we can prove they exist or confirm their nature, intent etc, what conclusions does this lead to.

          For me this supports freedom of and from religion, and hopefully some appreciation ones god beliefs are somewhat speculative, so tolerance for other theists, deist, pantheists, atheist perspectives.
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        Apr 9 2013: Obey and Bernard,
        For what it's worth, I perceive the question was asked with interest and honesty as well. I see no "mocking" of anything. Some folks do not like their personal beliefs questioned in any way!
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    Apr 7 2013: Humans who consider themselves reasonable have a tendency to have a reason or a purpose for everything they do or say or think. And they tend to look for an explanation, or a reason, or a purpose for everything they see. Perhaps, the search for God or even the idea of God comes from this striving for a purpose and the reason for our existence. But these are not to be found outside or determined by any experiment. What's the purpose of finding a purpose? What's does "meaning" mean? These are meaningless questions. Purpose and meaning only mean something in a specific context and come from inside, from our self.
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      Apr 7 2013: What does meaningless mean? (If pondering what "meaning" is meaningless.)
      Also what is "reason" and "logic" to you?
      "What's the purpose of finding a purpose" it is to feel fulfilled with yourself. (As Daniel Dennet says, the secret to happiness is giving yourself to some grander purpose than your self.)
      Yes they could have situational definitions depending on the context, I do not see what the problem is!
      Thanks Bernard. :D
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    Apr 2 2013: The experiment has already been done. It's the experiment of life itself without any rhyme or reason or protection from anything whatsoever. So instead of answering your question, I would ask, "What is the purpose of 'God'?" My answer is, There is no real purpose... other than what man has decided for his own reasons. When you think about it, everything in life has a purpose...even the hairs in our nose, so what is the purpose of "God?" if not to protect and care for Its creation? Is it to create life and then just abandon it to the forces of nature and evil? For the sake of what? Entertainment, experiment? The way I see it, there are only random acts of violence, starting with the Big Bang that eventually lead to our existence. There was no plan for it, no design for it, no purpose for it, no rationale for it, and no order to it. And there will be no final judgement day, no everlasting punishment or eternal reward. Injustice throughout the globe will continue, starvation and greed will coexist, stars will continue to be born, and stars like our sun will eventually die and this planet will no longer be able to support life. And who knows, maybe the perfect conditions for life as we know it will take place on another planet in another galaxy, and maybe it already has. So, what is the purpose of God? Is it just to observe Its own creative masterpiece for over 13 billion years for self gratification and entertainment? If so, that would make It a petty God. Is the purpose to stand idly by and watch some of Its creation starve while others consume more than they will ever need... only to punish the "evil doers" when It has seen enough? If so, that would make it an evil and useless God. I have never bought into the religious argument for the existence and purpose of God and without that, what else is there?
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      • Apr 3 2013: or you can look at it like all of this is gods physical form . the one desired to be many. to let physicality be possible. i see the universe as being perfect in all its imperfections and life being so precious could only form from such power as astrological and geological forces over millions upon millions of years. its the most beautiful thing anyone could give , the chance to be here for whatevr amount of time were enabled. this is it man ,...........
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        Apr 7 2013: Why assume it is a test?
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        Apr 7 2013: Why assume god wants loyal followers?
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    Apr 2 2013: What a lovely question.

    The word "experiment" is more aligned with "science" and implies an open mind with respect to the subject of inquiry along with peer reviewed, repeatable experiments. I think the word "god" is more aligned with religion and implies a more axiomatic "belief" often due to direct experience of various sorts. Seeing "The 10 Commandments" this past Easter weekend reminded me that when Moses asked God who he was, he answered "I am that I am" (or some say "I will be what I will be"). It's neat to see the way you unite these two opposed worlds in one question.

    I suspect each of us could have our own burning bush moment, that would convince us of the reality of God's existence independent of any experiment. Would we then use experiments to validate our belief? Not all of us have had that burning bush moment, but I think it's possible for everyone. And even if you have that moment, you may choose to interpret that as not-God. For example, Mathew Alper makes an excellent argument in his book the God Part of the Brain that there is a part of our brain that has evolved to feel God, for evolutionary advantage.

    It is the nature of an experiment that others can reproduce your results on their own, by repeating your experiment.

    It's an interesting question so just wanted to post my first thoughts while I stew on another response...
    • Apr 2 2013: Now I know where he got his slogan! Lol. Crazy sailor man that Popeye is!
    • Apr 2 2013: So, ultimately, science is a uniting force for humans? Even if machine could confirm there would probably still be non believers. Maybe that part of the brain is nature's experiment letting us know there is more. The universe is imperfectly perfect so logically God should be as well....... Dam...... Humans and all life inteligent enough to ask the question, are the hands of God. We can't think of God as a single entity the way we think of an individual. It's more like nature and all the levels of "being" that most people can't see. That be some machine, of this plane of existence but could see beyond it. "dark"matter, if it could be considered matter is a very interesting find. Can't wait till they find out more. Are the photos of bent light conclusive evidence of dark matter? Sorry to stray but it's all your fault! LOL...... Interesting comment.
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    Apr 30 2013: Bernard et. al.,

    A year or so ago I've had the opportunity to share a meal with a rabbi, a catholic priest and an is Islamic believer. Of course the conversation went into faith v reason, I was clearly outnumbered and nearly at the end of our wits the rabbi said something ( I paraphrase): "Winning or losing these arguments while informative is not really that important, what is important is our capacity for loving care & compassion for one another regardless of faith, or lack thereof ( he looked at me).They all agreed(me too)
    All else is academical even if God were to show up in the next 10 minutes . (and prove me wrong).
    Our capacity to care for one another regardless of faith or lack thereof... I'm with the Rabbi .

  • Apr 29 2013: I think the human intellect is myopic in its perception of god. Lets assume, that if something is infinite in its totality, repeat totality, it can not be grasped through any medium, that is, it cannot be contained in any vessel, box, or the human mind for that matter. Hence the MATH ERROR for infinity. The only place from where god can be perceived in a vague way is i think the heart. What i mean to say is the way to reach god is through the emotional self. The intellectual or the logician hidden in any human asks for a physical rendering but it is the heart which can or can not feel the presence and existence of god.
    So Bernie, we need to design an experiment from the emotional perspective in which the heart plays the most significant role.
    • May 1 2013: Hi Salman, that sounds great and I fully agree with you that we humans cannot imagine infinity or omniscience.
      Maybe it would be possible to design an experiment in which people that do not believe in anything spiritual are asked to temporarily, for 24 hours, fully accept the belief in a higher power. See if in those 24 hours any connection or event happens that would seem special to the person.
      Heh lots of people have changed their minds.. who knows.

      Isn't there also a movie in which people are given a life threatening experience, so that they may have a NDE? Maybe that will do it too :)

      All that being said, here is a serious thought. There are similarities between God and us too. There is something in Revelation for us to understand. God is love itself and wisdom itself. We have a will in order to receive the good from that Love, and an understanding to receive the truth from that Wisdom. Obviously these few words are as one sand particle and the universe, but there is more in this book about God's Providence or governance of the human race. Reading it may be the easiest experiment ever :)
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    Apr 28 2013: Richard and all of like mind

    My point is that if there is no "God", no design, no plan, no reason... the universe just happened makes no sense to me, in fact given the timeline that we all agree upon, it is impossible through any manner of random selection.

    So, why does it have to make sense? Why not?
    Why must nature have a reason? Why must God have a reason?

    All I have ever said is there was God, He set off the big bang... it makes a lot more sense then " I don't know, it just happened!"
    Is that really the best response that can be offered? "I don't know what happened, but you're wrong"!

    Would it cause you to burst into flames to say, "I don't believe (as a matter of faith in) God that He created the universe as we know it, but it is a better answer then the Universe just happened.

    PS... I read physics books. All I learned was they didn't know much more then me, but they were ignorant in much greater detail and had the math to prove it.
    • Apr 28 2013: Interresting choice of words you have there "Would it cause you to burst into flames to say,".
      Because the church often used this argument (burning in hell for your actions) to control people.

      But to get back on topic....
      I don't see any logical way to make a distinction between "God created the universe" and "it just happened". In one case it's a concious act... and in the other it's a natural event.
      But logically you can just put the question of "how did God come into existence" as the same question as "how did the universe come into existence"... and what is even worse... you can use the same answers to that for both.
      Scientists just like to be precise and therefor can't yet tell for sure.

      But that I do not yet know why the (imho) natural event occured is no reason to use some ancient book filled with errors used for power and influence by some pretty evil people to tell me how I should live.

      I can accept that the idea for a god... because I can also accept that I am a brain in a vat. But simply because I have no way of telling I am not going to believe in some magic.

      I will believe that science can eventually show (beyond reasonable doubt) that the universe is a natural physical process. Simply because all evidence I've seen in my life points towards that conclusion.

      If you want to believe some other story and be at the mercy of some entity.... you're free to do so.
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      Apr 28 2013: Mike,
      God is not a "better" answer because it does not answers anything. Actually God makes the situation worse now it needs to be explained.
      Look Mike God and faith come as an inseparable pair , and you are using a prime mover argument( you are defaulting God's existence, but which?) without first defining it, then you jump into an argument from ignorance( not calling you ignorant, ok?) & God of the gaps. It is way too much baggage to fly coach or first class.
      Look around you most of the people that does science for a living refute the God idea as a solution to explain anything ( and there is no conspiracy against God). Now if it's a matter of what satisfies you and you find psychics answers messy and ugly, OK I get the dissonance, and you find consonance in God.- Good.

      But I don't , and I'm wearing flame retarding clothing and a little tank of halon on the side for added measure!

      OK, If you read and understood those physics books throughly and you concluded that the authors didn't know more that you do, minus the math then Mike, I am impatiently waiting to read your book.

      "There is not one jot of evidence for cosmic purpose.
      It's a reverse engineering of the quest for God"
      -P Atkins

      “The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know
      suggests that, if so, this purpose has any similarity to ours.”
      -Bertrand Russell


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      Apr 29 2013: Hi mike as others have stated, your discomfort with a universe without a creator god is not proof for the existence of such.

      I also find it odd you can accept something unexplained, with no compelling evidence as a satisfactory gap filler or alternative to natural forces. But that is your choice. we can all have different opinions. While I think invoking magical agency may limit exploration or investigation, it is often benign. I only worry when supernatural (or any) beliefs lead to demonstrable harm.

      You seem to miss the point that asserting a god caused the big bang or what science has proven, ignores the questions how did a god cause the Big bang. What is a god that does not exist in the universe, where did it come from, why is there no evidence of its existence, and if there is no evidence, why believe in it?

      How do you know humans were part of gods plan. at least as likely we were accidents after it set off the big bang.

      Why does the existence of a god give the universe more meaning? Why does the god exist. It is arbitrary. Why did god masks the universe, and why make it the way it is. Why not create spirits in a spiritual realm. Why the pain, suffering, the struggle to survive. Theists sometimes invent contradictory explanations with no supporting evidence. But then why there is another level of why questions.

      I personally prefer not to speculate this way. I am comfortable with the reality we reasonably know and understand, that while we are not part of a gods plan, we exist, and can find meaning in our lives without supernatural speculation.

      No issue if you prefer supernatural speculation and feel that is a better answer, while I see it as raising even more questions.
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    Apr 28 2013: Glad to hear from you Mike,

    You see design and God , I don't, I see plain 'ole nature. You keep saying that nature is too complex to have "just happened" You see plan & design from end to end by God then all makes sense. And I say again I respect that.

    Let's grant that the Universe was designed by God, then I ask: What is God? What or who designed it? ( I hope that you can parse from the multiplicity of Gods available) . Please do not render the question irrelevant for I think we may fall short of the understanding that the God answer would provide, otherwise we are left with an unexplained being to explain the origins of the universe.The new question(s) raised by the God explanation are as problematic as the question which the explanation purports to answer.
    Science can provide plausible, purely natural scenarios based in well-established cosmological theories that show how our universe may have arisen out of an initial state of nothingness ( there is no "just happened"). And once again just because nature is complex does not means by default that there is a creator ( science has to work a little bit harder than that). Inconsistencies are not necessarily unresolvable and I'm not going into the babble or the flimflam of the inconsistency of the dataset. But what I must tell you Mike is that there is people working hard to solve those inconsistencies and if you look back at let's say the last 100 years of work, see the results. God is not an explanation (to me at least) because is not tied to any objective evidence. In the explaining game cosmologists are far out in front.

    By the way the BBT knows quite a deal more than jut "barely" down to the Planck time unit.

    "Where am I ? Who am I ?How did I come to be here? What is this thing call the world? How did I come into the World? Why was I not consulted? And if I am compelled to take part in it? Where is the Director? I want to see him"
    S. Kierkegaard

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      Apr 28 2013: Hello Carlos Marquez,
      Did you get my message concerning "The Psychology of Religion / "God(s)" ?"
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        Apr 28 2013: Bernard,
        What are we? animated molecular structures, that came alive one day in the past when molecules acquired the ability to become animated? Nah, I'm not going to thermodynamically argue that now.
        Did God created humans? Did Humans created God? Look at this: if you look at the laundry list of Gods & Goddesses by culture you will find that by the invention of writing(think about before writing) by the Sumerians (6K years ago) historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities. and this are conservatives numbers since no dataset is available before 4000 BC. Or Hindu Gods.
        If we stick to Christian-ism or better" Christianities", there are globally about 33,820 denominations with about 3,445,000 congregations churches and about 1,888 million Christians.
        Not all of them are right
        All of them are wrong
        One sect is right
        How to parse this issue? Is beyond me because the nature of the "thing " that needs to defined , measured is not in this natural world.
        Repeat the exercise for all remainder religions.
        Religion has been around for a long time, thus is safe to say that is meeting a human need(s).
        Is it a cohesion tool for specific cultures? Shemmer says we are "pattern seeking myth makers"
        I think that is mankind's attempt to make sense of the world around us, the things we cannot control, pain, suffering, death, life etc. Perhaps as we evolve we will learn to understand nature better,mankind will learn to let go of religion, ie must of us agree that the Earth is not flat, that the Sun is a Star at the center of our solar system, and that an odd man named Einstein did something with energy (wow big steps!)
        Science is abstract, full of mathematical expressions and most people would care not to understand it. But sure do enjoy its benefits (and perils).

        Our mind we are chained by, it liberated by it,
        the meanest tool available to man and with no manual.

        Thank you for the opportunity Bernard!

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          Apr 28 2013: Or as once someone told me they could all be different perspectives of the same "essence" (gained from experience of this "essence", which I don't view is a very good argument but this is a separate matter!), all of which could be true.
          Or the "God(s)" could change, why can't they be like humans at all, and have the ability to change their personality?
          I view that the psychology of religion / "God(s)" doesn't prove nor disprove God, only raises more question like :

          - Why can't certain animals experience God due to them not having the cognitive abilities we have! (Specifically the "Theory of Mind".)

          - Children under the age of two, can't really believe in a God. At least age and belief are strongly correlated, which raises some questions.

          - Look up the "God Helmet", you can force the "God experience" on people. And it was found that 10% (might be 20%) can't have this "God experience". Which ironically included Richard Dawkins.
          Watch :

          So yes, the psychology of religion / "God(s)" does raise more questions then answer about the concept of "God(s)".
          Whether there is existence of such a "Deity" I do not know, and don't think I ever will.

          Kind regards,
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          Apr 29 2013: Hi Bernard, seems like a whole set of related speculation.
          Like different forms of astrology, or paranormal categories.
          Its like saying it is magic, and then adding layers of detail, with no compelling evidence, relying on unreliable processes or unsubstantiated revelation and authority.

          Would you agree that the prevelance of belief in unseen agencies, natural spirits, gods and goddesses is not actually proof of there being unseen agents. I would go further and suggest where ever we gain an understanding of mechanisms, that reliably predict outcomes, no agency is required, just natural forces and processes.

          If these beliefs are based on stuff outside reality we can test or examine, if god concepts are not subject to time, space, forces, then the different beliefs possible are only limited by imagination.

          All the different forms of astrology are not evidence for astrology being correct. Only evidence would prove astrology, ideally examined scientifically, to avoid cognitive bias.

          I suggest the prevelance of religion and astrology points to something about human nature, rather than being proof of the supernatural. Just proof of supernatural beliefs.
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      Apr 28 2013: So Carlos,
      You hit me with Kierkegaard and attribute all this to old nature, but are unsure of God (let me say again, I use the word God as the best accommodation of all the words and phrases of: Supreme Being, Mother Nature, the 5th Universal Force, Intelligent Designer, etc. ad nauseam.)

      I have also said there are two conversations going on here. One where we speak of the universe and it's beginnings and the other which addresses matters of faith held by a vast majority of the world's peoples. I can't address how people say they believe or feel in their inter beings. It is not measurable by any means. So, if Frances I tells me he believes in God and attributes great and wondrous things to God, who am I to dispute him. More so, who are you?

      What I have consistently said in this conversation, is that some.... packed into that little ball of stuff that later exploded into the big bang was all the "plans, drawings and specifications" (pardon my engineering background) that was to become the known universe. Of Course, I have been chided because "none of this can be proven or, etc.,etc. " That is all true, but let me ponder one thing at a time? How did some.... get all that info into the little ball and not have it destroyed in the explosion, now that is a problem to solve...
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        Apr 29 2013: How did god make the stuff and pack it into a little ball?

        How did god get there in the first place?
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    Apr 26 2013: Bernard,
    "There is no evidence for God"- an experiment not clever enough still have not been designed to prove or disprove the statement ( I paraphrase, if I may). God does need to be defined in order for the hypothesis to become operational.

    And that other pesky detail of either "Dasein" or "Existenz".

    Indeed nothing in Science is proven or disproven beyond the shadow of any possible doubt.The "truth" is a moving target , provisional in nature. This is a good thing because we can never be sure what Science may uncover at the next corner.
    And if Science were to find new data that would require the God Hypothesis, in order to better explain how nature behaves it would not prove the existence of God beyond all doubt due to the conditional nature of the scientific method.

    Also consider what God is in question if the hypothesis were to be useful, it could also be true of a laundry list of hypothetical beings, forces or things mankind invents.Zeus?,Odin?, Jesus? et. al. This should apply equally regardless what God is favored.Thus even if we limit our consideration to the possibility of a God, ignoring every other random hypothesis, there's still no good reason to pick out any one god for favorable consideration.

    Maybe Science is not the best yardstick for the God problem , as mankind strives to understand reality with the scientific method we find walls, boundaries that we cannot go beyond, at least for now. And to avoid the anguish of Cognitive Dissonance perchance it may be better to reach for faith.

    Fides qua creditur vs. Fides quae creditur / The ever-going tension between the “the faith by which things are believed” and the “faith that is believed.” The fides qua refers to the act of entrustment made to God; the fides quae refers to the content we believe on the basis of that trust in God Who reveals it. Every act of faith is a belief in something (fides quae) on the basis of a trust in someone (fides qua). and "the faith with" an individual believes.
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      Apr 27 2013: Hi Carlos, you raise some interesting points.

      I suggest the scientific process, critical thinking, reasonable scepticism looking for evidence in support of extraordinary claims are the best tools we have for understanding the universe.

      Otherwise, if you leave it to faith, revelation, personal intuitive beliefs, you end up with a whole bunch of contradictory beliefs, that at best only one is correct, and all could be wrong.

      I support freedom of religion, where it does not harm others significantly. However, if we are interested in understanding the universe, discerning which claims are reasonable, and those that are contradictory or speculative, then religious type faith is of little value.

      Religious faith may have utility in other ways, but not in understanding what claims are most likely to be correct, or are not reasonably supported.
  • Apr 25 2013: To continue with God's problems, and a possible solution of them, Let's remember that basic elements of the Universe, like electricity, are not created by motors and generators, but merely reside there temporarily. And when the motor wears out, the electricity does not "die" or even change quantity, merely flows back into the "Ground". So then with "Life" consciousness. God does not need to worry about dying. As for the Incarnated "Individual " he or she may think "death "is occurring, but that is just another high class constructed illusion, as Life was. So the bottom line is that all conscious beings together are "God", there is no more real separation than there is between the Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic, but it is carefully arranged to SEEM that way, otherwise, evolution would not work. By the way, I understand that the original meaning of the Hindu greeting of a "prayerful" stance was at least originally, a mutual recognition of this Divinity in everyone. If you follow out the conclusions from this scheme, you will see that it neatly answers the "incomprehensible-to-humans" puzzles that Christianity , and Agnosticism , provides. At the present time, we cannot say what "electricity " IS, or what "consciousness" is, either,because they are TOO BASIC as "Primitive Terms", but that doesn't mean science cannot proceed.
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    Apr 21 2013: Obey,you are right. The fact that the oven even exists to allow something to "appear in it" really starts the argument off on the wrong tenet. The greatest of all mysteries is where did "anything" (anything!) come from? Pretty hard to explain. "Practically non existent" doesn't hold up. Somewhere in the deep deep distance, obviously beyond all comprehension but definitely connected to us, a circle was broken. You can't tell me that "something" has always existed. Where did "it" come from? Really, there is a much better argument for nothing to exist. Wouldn't be here to argue on that one. I attribute that circle being broken to GOD. A pretty complex individual. I don't buy Hawking.
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      Apr 22 2013: Hi tim, i was just having some fun with what might have been a metaphor, but then more seriously, there is obviously a categorisation fallacy to compare cakes, with life, or the universe. To imply agency is required for cupcakes, so it must be behind the origin of life or the universe, or snowflakes, or the weather, or the tides, or movement of planets etc is obviously fallacious for this reason.

      I guess there is the physics definition of nothing, and the laypersons, are different.

      I agree something changed. We ended up with what we have now, and it hasnt always been this way.

      Also, apparently the total energy of the universe is zero. 0 > +1 - 1. So nothing or whatever it was changed into some other stuff, that kind of cancels itself out in total.

      What there was before the big bang, what is outside this expanding universe. Does before or outside even make sense. Apparently space is curved. You head off in one direction and end up coming back from behind. Reality is counter intuitive for even the smartest primates, the smartest minds we reasonably know exist, us.

      We have some pretty good scientific ideas about the development of the universe as we see it today, down to the early stages. I guess at some point is gets much harder to work out with confidence, or to a point we may never know or comprehend.

      I guess im comfortable with saying i dont know, and apparently as a species there are things we dont yet know with reasonable confidence. I just find positing a god to fill the gaps has no real explanatory power. Whereas it satisfies others.

      Personally i think we evolved to assume agency, and deal with a cause and effect middle sized reality, and so for some a magical inexplicable agency, one that does not follow the rules of reality seems to plug the gap, without answering anything really.

      Something must have done it, works for many. But i think this just raises another set of questions, and is really an argument from ignorance.

      Is god a something?
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          Apr 24 2013: I agree some god concepts posit a being, person, intelligence, mind, a conscious entity of some sort that is not restricted by the laws of physics, that is not bound by time or space, is not material but can create or manipulate energy and matter at will etc

          It is not part of the reality we can see, measure, test, understand, it is outside reality we can examine with our senses, or science, or

          You need to conceptualise another sort of unreality, for which there is no scientific evidence as far as i can tell, no compelling evidence at all. There are many increasingly vague speculative concepts, which do not meet even basic scepticism or critical thinking in my opinion.

          There could very well be an unreality outside of the reality we know and perceive, but i am yet to hear of any reliable way to consistently know anything about it, or whether it exists at
          all. In the same way there could be many universes we are not aware of. Being able to vaguely conceptualise something is not a good reason to assert it exists as more than an idea in my opinion.
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    Apr 18 2013: MESSAGE TO ALL! (Who have participated!)

    I going to admit:
    The summary ending comment is going to be really difficult at this rate, with all the wonderful, intelligent, diverse, well thought out answers we are getting! (Tolerant + Respectful too! How rare? On such a controversial subject...)
    Very hard indeed. (Not sure I am up for the job! :P)
    Many thanks (to all),

    Very interesting to hear everybody's perspective. Seems I have had my perspective changed a many a time! (Mainly about the definition of "God", and what the idea of "God" is here for, and whether we even "need God".)

    Yet there is still another 12 days to reach a consensus! Hopefully one of wonder and amazement.
    What shall my next "TED Debate" be about? Hmm...
    Another "God" debate? :-)
  • Dan F 50+

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    Apr 17 2013: Although science is designed to be good at only weeding out the false claims about the physical world, does it not in the process point us more in the direction of what better defines the truth by the scientific body of knowledge in good standing?

    An objective dynamic on going experiment is already in play in the form of natural history. What does the knowledge of natural history tell us? What appears most clear from the standing evidence is that living organisms have a common ancestry to the extent that a phylogenetic tree has been constructed showing all life is interconnected and has developed from an original biotic or sub-biotic source(s) or starting point.

    That body of evidence is contrary to the supernatural role God has been assigned by religion. So let's say you are a more liberal believer and you can accept biological evolution and even abiogenesis. Your contention being, how can something come from nothing as a basis for giving us this expression of reality in the first place? Is not that fact alone enough to concede some outside influence?

    Logical avenue to pursue, but does introducing a creator not generate even more interesting questions? How, when, where and why did the creator come about?

    I'd rather direct my imagination from the physical ground up as opposed to from the internal inspirations of the more faithful among us inspired to explain why we should be religious. Despite what makes me tick, to each is own as long as we are civil to one another and have the social protection and freedom to think and believe as we please.
  • Apr 17 2013: Well can science ever prove or disprove the paranormal or ETs. No, because by what means can you really do so let alone replicate the experiment and collect evidence. God is a conception in peoples head and most people of all religions believe "God" represents a force that transcends human thought. So if God is beyond us how can we measure Him/Her. If just one anomaly was found that could be a good start. For instance if one hominoid fossil date back before the Cambryan than that would be puzzling! Every bit of credible evidence supports what some call the "Materialistic" world view of science. However if a single irrefutable piece of data contradicted the existing paradigm than that would be the beginning of discovery toward a new dimension of reality which may be God or closer to him. I doubt that will happen but you never know...
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      • Apr 17 2013: i feel you. The CIA was doing remote viewing studies for awhile, and i wish the results where published. Im not against the possibility of metaphysics but im skeptical of not only when there are claims but the method of the analysis. Micheal Shermmer of skeptic magazine says "before we jump to the conclusion something is out of this world we must make sure its not of this world." A scientific claims has to be both verifiable and falsifiable. A sound conclusion cannot come before sound analysis and all avenues exhausted. Im actually intrigued by the paranormal and am willing to believe if the right evidence was there or i personally had an experience. I worry too, that claims of metaphysics may threat the scientific process. There are people who choose to except bad science when it fits there view while simultaneously discarding oceans of established data formulating the existing scientific notion of reality.
        • Apr 17 2013: Hi Keith!
          I understand your concerns, but strong statistical evidence really does deserve to be looked at. In fact, most all of the reaerchers became interested in this area - not because of personal experience (such as you and I). But, because they learned of the solid evidence. They wanted to test the evidence for themselves. And then they began the endeavor (the classical scientific process), of trying to find the process that allows for this phenomenon to produce the statistical weight it has. An example is Sir Roger Penrose, an eminent mathematician and physicist at Oxford. He (as well as the other highly credentialed researchers I cited), deserve to be seriously considered.
          May I ask you to at least read "Proof of ESP" by Targ first, and then we have common ground to work with.